Water security, provision, transport and leisure are highlighted among the 200 most influential civil engineering projects

Cow Green Reservoir, Thirlmere aqueduct, New Zealand hydro-electric power and Hampstead Heath Ponds are among the projects recognised by the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) for significantly shaping the world around us.

The Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) has announced these projects have joined the 200 People and Projects list, which best illustrate how civil engineering has transformed people's lives for the better.

Among those selected to join the list of 200 People and Projects this month are clear illustrations of the many ways that civil engineering can harness the power of water to provide growing populations with clean drinking water and power their cities as well as simply providing city dwellers with opportunities for leisure pursuits.

Nathan Baker, Engineering Knowledge Director at ICE, said:

"Our research has shown that the majority of both adults and young people don't know what a civil engineer does and most can't identify a single UK civil engineering project. Among the projects selected this month are clear examples of the myriad of ways civil engineers can harness and control the power of water for the benefit of mankind."

To mark the ICE's 200th anniversary, and to support Government's Year of Engineering, the Institution is highlighting 200 inspirational and world-changing projects from around the world. Nominated by the ICE's members and selected by an expert panel, the chosen projects illustrate the breadth and depth of civil engineering's impact on society. A select number of the 200 projects are being unveiled each month, revealing the full list by the end of 2018.

Cow Green, built in 1971, is a 3km (2 miles) reservoir in County Durham. At 480m it's one of the highest placed in England. Being a regulatory reservoir it releases water into the river Tees during dry conditions so that it can be removed further downstream. Cow Green supplies water to thousands of homes and industries in Teesside.

On the other side of the Pennines the Thirlmere reservoir and aqueduct, built in 1894, was the longest ever aqueduct of its time and allowed the population of Manchester easy access to water at a time when the city was rapidly expanding. Transporting water for 153km, the aqueduct does not use any pumps along its length and is entirely gravity-fed. It takes a full day for water to reach the taps of Manchester from the hills of Cumbria.

Throughout most of the 20th century, from 1903 to1993, civil engineers in New Zealand were harnessing the power of water to generate power. Hydroelectric power is a key part of New Zealand's energy system, supplying more than half of the country's energy needs. The first schemes were built by mining companies at the height of the country's gold rush. Workers at a mine in the hills of Otago on South Island developed a small hydroelectric plant to power equipment in 1886. By 1901 the New Zealand government had built its first hydroelectric plant – a small 100kW generator – at Okere Falls near Rotorua on North Island.

By 2014 hydro generation was contributing 57% to the country's total electricity needs. Production peaked in 1980 when 84% of the country's electricity was generated by hydro.

But civil engineers are not just responsible for developing infrastructure. In London the Hampstead Heath Ponds upgrade has allowed the population of one of the world's busiest cities to enjoy a slice of nature as well as the opportunity foropen air swimming. The 2017 ICE London-award winning project was responsible for improving health and safety and gave a new lease of life to the famous London pools.

For more information and to see more of the 200 people and projects selected to celebrate civil engineering throughout the Institution of Civil Engineers bicentenary visit What is civil engineering.